Relationships are very important in nature. Animals, plants, fungi, and microscopic organisms (such as bacteria and protozoa) all depend on each other to live. Humans fit into this too! These relationships, along with the way we get sunlight and water, make up our local ecology.

There are different kinds of relationships. Predation is when one animal eats another. One species benefits by getting food. The other species is killed. Competition is when two organisms are trying to get the same resources, whether it's food, water, or sunlight. Neither species benefits from this relationship, because each organism is taking resources from the other.

Symbiotic Relationships occur when two organisms live side by side. There are several different kinds of symbiotic relationships:

Mutualism: Both species benefit. The two organisms help each other. An example would be a honey bee and a dandelion. The honey bee gets to eat the pollen from the flower. The dandelion uses the bee to spread its pollen to another flower.
Commensalism: One species benefits. The other species is unaffected. A common example is an animal using a plant for shelter. An American Robin benefits by building its nest in a Red Maple tree. The tree is unaffected.
Parasitism: Ones species benefits. The other species is harmed. An example would be a deer tick and a White-tailed Deer. The tick gets food from the deer without killing it. The deer is harmed by losing blood to the tick, and possibly by getting an infected wound.
Neutralism: Neither species benefits or is harmed. Both organisms are unaffected. An American Goldfinch is a bird that eats mostly seeds. It may share a tree with a Great Crested Flycatcher, which eats mostly insects. Neither affects the other.

The species pages on this website are all linked through relationships. Look for the relationship menu at the bottom of each page. Some relationships are clearly marked, such as Predator/Prey,while some are listed under the "Other" heading. This is where you will find interesting relationships, such as Mutualism and Parasitism. The relationship of "Shelter" is an example of Commensalism.

There are relationships among species on this website that are not shown. For one, scientists are learning more about wildlife everyday and how organisms interact with each other. We know we still have much to learn. Also, it would be very difficult to try to link every organism here to every other organism. We have tried to show examples of relationships which sometimes represent similar relationships we were not able to show. For example, the Red Fox is known to eat both snakes and acorns. On the Red Fox page, we have shown that this species has a predator/prey relationship with a Black Rat Snake. We did not show the identical relationship with a Garter Snake. Similarly, we showed that foxes eat Black Oak, since they eat acorns from this tree. We did not show White Oak for the same reasons explained above.

We have added a key for the "Other" category to help you understand which type of relationshi is being talked about. To see an explanation of the key, click here: "Other Relationships Key"


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